Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barça Part II: Cable Cars and Cats!

Now for Day 2 of our Barcelona adventure!  On Saturday, we woke up early, threw our bed sheets in the washer, and set out for the train station to catch a train to Montserrat.  We knew trains left hourly from Plaza España, and we assumed departures would be on the hour.  We arrived comfortably early at 8:35, only to find out the train had left while we were buying our tickets.  Lesson learned—don’t assume anything about train schedules!  It’s always better to find out, because it’s possible that trains leave on the thirty-fourth minute of every hour, or some other such random number.  We killed an hour eating some tasty pastries for breakfast and caught the next train, but this small error caused us to feel rushed the whole time we were at Montserrat, so it’s a mistake we’ll try to avoid on future adventures.

In short, Montserrat was incredible.  When we arrived, it was foggy around the mountain, so all we could see were the cables leading upwards until they disappeared into the mist.  After a short wait, we boarded the cable car and floated up the mountain.  When we rose above the fog, we began to realize how high we were.  As someone rather frightened of heights, the experience of dangling from a tiny cable over the side of this gigantic mountain was both amazing and nerve-racking.

At the top of the cable car, we got to wander around the monastery at the top and even witnessed a couple minutes of mass inside the gorgeous and ornate sanctuary that makes a striking contrast with the rugged landscape just outside.  Then we rode in a funicular up even higher, nearly at the peak of the mountain.  If we thought we were on top of the world at the monastery, this vantage point felt like looking down at earth from space.  Photos failed entirely to capture the scale of that view, but we took lots anyway!  There is lots of hiking to be done up at the top of Montserrat, but due to our lost hour in the morning, we had to hurry back to Barcelona after only a short walk.

We arrived back in Barcelona a bit before 3pm, and we needed to check out of our apartment by 3:30, so we hustled back and hung up the clean linens to dry for the next person, handed off the keys, and headed across the city on the metro for the second apartment.  This apartment was only a short distance from the Sagrada Familia.  We arrived and met the owner, a kind lady who lives there with a couple family members and her nine cats, and rents out the extra rooms to travelers.  The quantity of cats wandering around was admittedly bizarre, but otherwise, this apartment was great!  We got to meet another temporary resident, an English girl who recently moved to Spain to work for a year between high school and university.  She was relieved to have people to chat with in English, since she is living in Spain with only rudimentary Spanish skills.  Anyway, upon our arrival, we dropped off our stuff and set out on foot to see some Gaudi architecture, but Amanda will tell you more about that!

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